Councils unite to secure renewable energy purchase agreement


Six councils in the New South Wales’ (NSW) Hunter region have signed a 10-year power purchasing agreement (PPA) with Sydney-based retailer Mojo Power, ensuring the participating councils’ combined electricity requirements of 100 GWh for large sites and street lighting will come from renewable sources.

The six participating councils are the Upper Hunter, Muswellbrook, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Cessnock City and Central Coast councils.

Central Coast Council chief financial officer and corporate affairs director Natalia Cowley said combining the council’s energy load with neighbouring local government areas to increase purchasing power helped leverage competitive market pricing and made good commercial sense.

“This power purchase agreement provides council with value for money, increases our use of renewable energy sources and further demonstrates council’s steadfast commitment to productivity improvements,” she said.

Muswellbrook Mayor Steve Reynolds said the agreement, which commenced in January, followed an open tender process which was conducted in September 2021, and said the winning bid from Mojo Power provided “the best value for money outcome”.

“The PPA agreement combines participating councils’ electricity requirements of 100 GWh for large sites and streetlighting and will increase sources and consumption of renewable energy within the councils’ regions,” he said.

“This agreement means stable and lower electricity costs in comparison with recent years, as well as supporting the construction of a new renewable electricity project in the region.”

The Bayswater power station will now close no later than” 2033.
The Hunter Valley has long been a site for fossil fuel power stations, such as the Bayswater coal station.

Image: AGL

The Upper Hunter Shire Council said renewable energy projects identified in the contract agreement with Mojo Power include the Upper Hunter Energy Park (UHEP), a planned wind and solar farm being developed at Owen’s Gap near Scone by Sydney-based property development and renewables company Pamada.

The planned energy park includes a 10 MW solar farm and 80 MW wind farm with plans for future storage capacity.

Pamada has said the project received planning approval from the state government in 2010 but the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is still to make a determination.

The council said the structure of the PPA will see councils source electricity from the UHEP when the project is eventually completed but the agreement with Mojo Power allows the councils to source renewable energy from other solar and wind farms in the meantime.

Reynolds said the agreement was a great outcome for all of the councils involved.

“(This agreement) will result in stable and lower electricity costs and support the construction of new renewable electricity projects in the region,” he said.

In addition, the council said each local government area will determine how they manage environmental certificates to support their individual environmental targets over the course of the contract.

“Some of the participating councils will achieve 100% renewable electricity from the outset, while others will progressively ramp up their promotion of renewable electricity in line with their targets,” the council said.

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